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A Foreigner Trying to Understand Brazil’s Viral Celebrity: Inês Brasil

Walk past the many newsstands on São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista right now and you will see Dilma’s face splashed across the front cover of The Economist. ‘Brazil’s Fall’ is the headline, accompanied by a rather unflattering picture of the defeated-looking president. Within the pages of the most recent publication you will find forecasts of doom and gloom for both the country’s economy and its political situation in 2016. Of course, this report doesn’t really say anything new for the thousands of business men and women working on this avenue, it merely reinforces what many here already expected…that the country is in for a rough ride this year.

Yet, in the midst of all of the job insecurity, potential political upheaval and general concerns for the future stands one woman. This is a woman offering a welcome distraction for many in the face of such uncertainty, a woman who I have spent the best part of two years trying to understand.

Her name?

Inês Brasil

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Inês, let me describe her in a nutshell. She is shameless and very, very loud. I’d even go as far as to say that when God was handing out shame, Inês was in a different queue (I suspect she might have been having her breasts enlarged at the time!).

Inês became famous off the back of Big Brother Brazil despite never actually appearing on the show. She tried and failed to get into the house on five separate occasions after sending her videos in each year. Eventually one of these audition videos found its way onto YouTube and propelled her into the limelight. Why?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that in her video she dances with all the grace of a tasered bear. Or maybe it’s that she wears an attention grabbing outfit – an incredibly tiny bikini top – that shows off her cartoon-like, surgically enhanced assets. Maybe it’s her unrestrainable enthusiasm for appearing on Big Brother that captivated some Brazilians. It could also be the expressions she uses in this video which have since gone on to become her catchphrases, such as ‘Alô Alô’, ‘Graças a Deus’ (Thank God) and ‘Voces sabem quem sou eu” (Do you guys know who I am?)

I’m guessing that it is a combination of all of these that helped her audition video go viral.

Then came the parodies.

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Someone created a mash up of Scream and Shout by Will.I.Am and Britney Spears, featuring clips from this Inês Brasil audition video. This opened the floodgates for more, and on YouTube right now you can find videos of Inês alongside big names such as Lady Gaga, Florence and the Machine, Beyonce, Rihanna, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj. Actually, most major pop hits of the last few years now have Inês parodies.

You see, putting Inês clips and catchphrases into big name pop songs has become a ‘thing’ over here!

The more the country experiences hard times, the more parodies, memes and pictures of Inêz are featuring on my Facebook time line. Is this merely a coincidence? I’m not sure, but right now Internet dwelling residents of Brazil seemingly can’t get enough of her.

After these parodies it was almost inevitable then that Inês would release some of her own music. So on May 17th, 2015, she released her single, Make Love. I’d love to say that the inappropriate nature of the choreography in this clip is comparable to a Miley Cyrus MTV awards performance, but Miley really has nothing on Inês (Be warned, you cannot un-see this video after watching it and it is definitely NSFW!). This official video takes camp to the next level, and is so sublimely vulgar that you can’t help but wonder what the hell you have just watched, or even how Inêz got away with making it in the first place.

Oh, and it has gone on to have more than 1.3 million views.

What is it about Ines that allowed her to make a career off the back of just one viral video? Well, from what I’ve seen and heard about her, like a puppy, she has since proven to be boisterously excitable, to have a very commanding personality and people seem more than happy to embrace her unique brand of ridiculousness….as was proven just last month with Grammy-gate.

Inês Brasil vs The Grammys

I absolutely LOVE this story.

When the official Grammys Facebook page asked the public who they thought would be included amongst the nominations for 2016, Brazilians inundated the site with suggestions for Inês . In fact, there was such a huge response for Make Love to be included in the nominations that on December 2nd  Inês was given her own page on the official Grammy site. Not only this, within hours of being included she quickly became the most voted for singer on there.

Unfortunately, after receiving some 75,000 votes she was swiftly removed from the list. The Grammys gave some excuse at the time that seemed legit, about how only residents of the USA could vote. But it seems strange that they would have overlooked the fact that other countries would have participated before they opened up the voting though, right? After all, they’re the Grammys!

Well after the Inês incident, ALL Brazilians became blocked from voting on the official Grammy site.

“Can you believe it Andrew?” asked one of my friends. His lips twisted slightly and his voice almost sounded embarrassed, yet the grin on his face betrayed how funny he found the whole thing. “The whole of Brazil can’t vote in the Grammys because of the number of votes we gave Inês. They don’t think we’re taking these prestigious awards seriously!”

The Future For Inês

Despite the huge problems threatening to engulf Brazil this year, there is one thing for certain. Parodies, memes and interviews of Inês look set to offer some light relief throughout the worst of it all. If you’re a Brazilian reading this, depending on your perspective, this will either depress the hell out of you or make you smile!

Then if you’re a foreigner trying to make sense of Inês’ popularity in Brazil, just don’t! Inês has become an internet powerhouse, capturing the imagination of many Brazilians over here…there just doesn’t seem to be a logical explanation for this!

Or is there something I’ve missed?

 Can you explain Inês’ popularity to me? 

How would you explain her to a foreigner?

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